lighting in kitchen? fluorescent, halogen, or LED

roryvanAugust 9, 2010

I am in the middle of a kitchen remodel and trying to decide on lighting...feeling quite frustrated and wish someone would just decide for me! I know I want recessed cans around the perimeter, under cabinet lighting, and something over the sink. I don't have an island or a peninsula so really don't need anything else. I just can't decide among fluorescent, halogen, or LED. Can you combine the different types? Is one better than another depending on the room color? what about with quartz counter tops and glare? My cabinets will be cream as well as the backsplash, but there won't be a lot of natural light - only a north facing underporch window in the kitchen and a south facing window in the dining room open to the kitchen. I like the warmer look of incandescent lighting and didn't want any bluer light with my brown countertops. Help, please!

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Cree LR6 cans produce light just like incandescent lights.

Technically there is no reason why one cannot have different light sources. Practically though, your choices may be constrained by energy efficiency laws, budget and taste.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:52PM
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Halogens give the best color rendering and crispness of light. Low voltage being the best.

Good LEDs can almost replace halogen in terms of how nice they will make your kitchen look. Of course they'll use a fraction of the energy and practically last forever. But there aren't that many good ones out there. Avoid Halo. Bad color rendering and just a glare bomb in your ceiling.

Fluorescents are good only for bad memories.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:31PM
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i have CREE lr6 in my kitchen, some low voltage halogen over the sink, xenon undercabinet lighting, incandescents in the island pendants & cfl's in the pendant over the kitchen table.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 9:54PM
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"Fluorescents are good only for bad memories."

I'm sorry, I can't let this pass unchallenged.

Fluorescent is still the most energy efficient lighting available at a reasonable price. If you're not in California, well-chosen, decent quality surface mount and pendant fixtures with retrofit CFs will give you high quality, attractive, even task lighting with efficacy in the 70-85 l/W range.

Yes, fluorescent lighting is out of fashion, as your comment suggests. But it's a practical lighting system for people who care more about usability of illumination and affordability than about fashion.

In 20 or 30 years, what you advocate today will be as tired-looking as you think fluorescents are now. I'll still have my fluorescent lights, and unless you've modernized (spending yet more money), you'll still have your halogens. My fluorescents will still be lighting my kitchen more evenly, practically, and economically than your wasteful, low efficacy halogens.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:17PM
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Well, not to get too into it- as my comment was partially tongue in cheek..
And this is point of view, of course.

But my experience is that we haven't sold one fluorescent fixture in over 4 years- since the LR6 came out. Before that we barely sold any. If we did, people bought them because they were forced to by the state (California). LED and low voltage halogen are what people like and want. In terms of a free demand for fluorescent, there isn't any- as opposed to government mandated demand.

But, overall, taking fixture life (not lamp life) into account, along with dimmability, the difference between low voltage halogen and fluorescent in terms of energy use and life is nothing close to what the numbers claim.

One of the big selling points for our showroom was showing our power bill. Being lv halogen-centric, people expected our bill to be huge. It wasn't. In fact, if I changed every bulb to fluorescent, our bill would go up. And that's simply because when I dim the lights, I use less energy. And as most fluorescents can't dim...

I can go on, but taking into account the negatives we all know along with the questionable real life positives, I'm not a fan. And this doesn't take into account the poison aspect of the bulb.

Again, this boils down to personal preference. I've sold some *really* ugly fixtures. But my customers liked them. Who am I to judge?

And you're right about cost. They're dirt cheap and that's the budget for many people. We can't expect everyone to buy LEDs.

Actually I'm interested to see what happens to us in California in 10+ years as Mercury is one of the biggest contaminants in land fills. I would be surprised if there will be a big clean up bill.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 5:05PM
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"we haven't sold one fluorescent fixture in over 4 years ..."

Well, sure. Stores sell what they push. If you don't suggest that customers buy a product, most won't. (I'm the exception, as I usually know what I want long before I step into a store. :)

"the difference between low voltage halogen and fluorescent in terms of energy use and life is nothing close to what the numbers claim."

As the old saw goes, the plural of anecdote is not data.

If you have your lights dimmed most of the time, you've probably chosen the wrong light.

Curiously, low light output is one of the places where low voltage incandescents "shine" (sorry). For a given wattage, the filament is thicker for better life and durability. Compared to line voltage incandescents, they can run hotter (and whiter) for better efficiency at low light output.

But that's when they're run at normal voltage. You lose that advantage when you dim them.

As you dim any incandescent lamp, its efficacy in lumens per watt, already overall the lowest of modern lighting systems, becomes even lower. This is a natural consequence of the lower filament temperature.

In other words, your energy use is low because you aren't producing much light, not because your lights are efficient. So you could use even less energy if you'd use even lower voltage lights running flat-out - assuming you could find such lights. (Practically speaking, this is where LEDs come in.)

BTW, a dimmed halogen lamp also loses one of its other great advantages over a conventional incandescent - maintaining light output over the full life of the lamp. That's because the chemical reaction that keeps tungsten boiled off the filament from deposting on the lamp envelope doesn't run at the lower temperatures of a dimmed lamp.

"most fluorescents can't dim..."

There are some retrofit dimmable CFs that dim rather nicely. I'll admit that they don't dim as low as many people would like, however.

"Mercury is one of the biggest contaminants in land fills."

I don't doubt that it could be a concern, but I'd like to see your source for this statement.

Here's what counts, folks. When you use a fluorescent lamp, you are releasing LESS mercury into the world. Period. Most people state that and let it go, but here are the hard numbers.

The amount of mercury in fluorescent lamps has gotten drastically smaller in the last couple of decades. A typical compact fluorescent lamp has only about 5mg. There are even some full-size linear fluorescent lamps (Philips Alto range, for example) that contain so little mercury - less than 3.6mg per 32 watt F32T8 lamp - that the EPA has actually approved disposing of them in regular trash, though I still recommend taking them to a household hazardous waste (HHW) disposal site (and do this myself).

Now, a coal fired powerplant will emit about 3.5mg of mercury powering a 20W CF for its lifetime, taking that as 7500h (a rough average). If you chuck the CF in the trash, you've just released 8.5mg of mercury into the environment. If you take it to the HHW center and they recycle the mercury, you've released only 3.5mg.

Now let's say you use a 75W incandescent bulb instead. Since it lasts an average of 750h you'll need 10 of them to the one CF. This uses more landfill space and more raw materials, but we'll neglect that for now.

The salient point here is that although those 10 bulbs contain no mercury, the powerplant emits 13mg of mercury powering them. And there's not a thing you can do about it. You can't haul any of that mercury to your local HHW center.

So, here's the bottom line. Using an incandescent bulb releases at least 53% more mercury into the environment than using a CF, and that's if you junk the CF in a landfill.

If you use a CF and dispose of it properly at a HHW disposal center, the mercury released is only 3.5mg. In that case, using the incandescent bulb releases 270% more mercury, or 3.7 times as much.

"Again, this boils down to personal preference."

Absolutely. Choice is good. Informed choice is better. That's why I take the time to write this stuff. :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 11:28PM
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if you want your kithen seems more neature at night ,you can choose LEDS!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 4:24AM
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For those still concerned about the mercury in CFs, I've just run across some containing about 80% less mercury than the norm - only 1mg per 23 watt unit. They are "Neolite" CFs and are made by Litetronics.

Note that I haven't yet tried these CFs, so I can't comment on their performance.

I will say that the low mercury 32w linear fluorescents I'm using (Philips Alto) seemed a bit dim for the first few uses, but after a few days they seemed to perform as well as any other 32w linear I have in service.

I also have no particular position on the vendor linked below. They just happen to be one which showed up in a web search as offering this particular brand of CF. There are many other choices.

If you do decide to order from the vendor below, make sure you get the color temperature you want, most likely 2700K soft white. The first items listed on their page are the 4100K cool white models, probably NOT what most people would want for incandescent retrofit uses.

Here is a link that might be useful: Litetronics Neolite low mercury CFs

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 7:25PM
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LED is the way to go. It might cost more in the short term, but check back and it will have been worth it.

I am just moving into my CREE LR6'd LED canned kitchen/family room. Every time my contractor walks in he says "wow, best light I've ever seen"... and he's been a contractor for 20 years... He tried to get me a good deal on the Halo, but it actually ended up being more than CREE ordered from Polar-Ray.

CREE LR6 2700 warm and Environmental Lighting's undercabs. Both dimmable.

I have a pretty pendant the island, but that's for show :)... Believe it or not, it looked best in a longish curly CFL... So, so 500 sf. in

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 3:24AM
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